Faculty of Science

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This unit entry is for students who completed this unit in 2016 only. For students planning to study the unit, please refer to the unit indexes in the the current edition of the Handbook. If you have any queries contact the managing faculty for your course or area of study.

Monash University

6 points, SCA Band 2, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate - Unit

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered.




Associate Professor Elizabeth Davis & Dr Klaudia Budzyn



  • First semester 2016 (Day)


This unit provides a basic understanding of the principles of drug action - including the targets of drug action (receptors, enzymes, ion channels), drug receptor interactions, receptor families and signalling pathways - as well as the principles of pharmacokinetics (absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion). Particular examples of neurotransmitter systems and mediator systems (including histamine, 5HT, eicosanoids and the renin angiotensin system) as targets for drug action are studied in detail.


On completion of this unit students will be able to:

  1. Discuss mechanisms by which drugs can act to produce changes in living systems;

  1. Utilise the basic principles of pharmacokinetics to explain individual differences in responses to drugs;

  1. Apply knowledge of endogenous mediator systems to predict the potential therapeutic and adverse effects of drugs;

  1. Access relevant scientific literature to design a set of experiments to address a specific hypothesis relating to a drug's mechanism of action;

  1. Demonstrate the ability to execute pharmacological experiments to obtain, present and interpret data relating to mechanisms of drug action;

  1. Demonstrate the ability to source, critically evaluate and use scientific literature to address a defined pharmacological problem;

  1. Demonstrate the ability to work individually and collaboratively.


Examination (3 hours): 55%
In-semester tests: 15%
Group written assignment (1000 words): 15%
Practicals/in-class exercises: 15%
A pass in the final examination and in the practicals and in-class exercises and the group assignment must be obtained to pass the unit.

Workload requirements

Two 1-hour lectures and three hours of laboratory or self-directed learning/ tutorial per week

See also Unit timetable information

Chief examiner(s)

This unit applies to the following area(s) of study


BMS2031; or two of PHA2022, PHY2011, PHY2021, PHY2032 or PHY2042; or BTH2012 plus one of BMS1052, PHY2011 or PHY2032